Online grocery delivery platforms BigBasket and Grofers are facing scarcity of operational staff due to the coronavirus outbreak in India. To meet the increasing demands that are in result of the nationwide lockdown and cope with the shortage of delivery partners, BigBasket has started working with third-parties such as cab aggregators and restaurant associations. Grofers has also called applications for operational workers.
With the lockdown in place, many people, such as taxi drivers, couriers, deliveries of non-essential goods, have found themselves underemployed. Although there has been no official steps taken, the delivery executives have had to adapt to deal with the current scenario, with some doing deliveries of medicines, and other people spotting Uber drivers turning their cars into mobile vegetable stalls.
Now, grocery delivery companies like BigBasket and Grofers, which have started operations again but have huge backlogs of orders, are looking to this workforce as a way of meeting the current surge in demand.
Through a notification on its app, BigBasket has started informing customers that it is working with cab aggregators, restaurant associations, and retailers to fulfil its manpower requirements for grocery deliveries. The Bengaluru-based company is also addressing the unavailability of delivery slots on its platform and is claimed to have increased its server capacity by 50 percent to handle additional traffic in this tough time.
That being said, BigBasket is yet to fulfil grocery requirements for the masses in the country who aren't able to step out and purchase essential items thanks to the coronavirus outbreak spreading in the country and the nationwide lockdown that the government implemented last week. Placing an order is still very difficult, and most apps say delivery slots are full.
So, food is running out. And @bigbasket_com still does not have a delivery slot open.— Subir Ghosh (@write2kill) April 1, 2020
My order cancelled even after waiting for delivery for two days pic.twitter.com/aBj7bscKNl— mirza khasim baig (@mirzakhasimbaig) March 31, 2020
BigBasket was one of the key online platforms that had to halt its operations due to restrictions imposed by local authorities under the lockdown. However, the company restored its operations partially a few days back and is currently operating at 40 percent of its capacity, as noted on its app.
Some delivery executives working at BigBasket told Gadgets 360 that the company is currently struggling to find resources to drive vehicles to bring goods from warehouses. Similarly, a large number of its delivery executives have also left the operations after getting harsh reaction from the police and resident welfare associations (RWAs) during the initial days of the lockdown in many parts of the country.
Similar to BigBasket, popular online grocery delivery platform Grofers partially restored its service in the country days after it had to close many of its warehouses and pause its operations due to the lockdown.
The Gurugram-based company is at present hiring semi-skilled workforce for its warehouses and delivery fleet to smoothen the operations. CEO Albinder Dhindsa recently announced the openings through his Twitter account. Furthermore, the company has already hired some staff from the textile industry to bring things back on track.
That said, customers are still facing delivery issues on Grofers in many parts of the country.
@Grofers Hi, my order shows cancelled on the app and I have got no notification or refund information about it. In such a difficult time, please don't do this.— Navanita (@_Navanita) March 31, 2020
Worest service provide by the Grofers, i have placed an order on 21 March and delivery date is 25th March but due to lock down Grofers team reschedule it on 04th April, I am waiting for grocery and yesterday they have cancled the order. Now tell what should i do. @Grofers— Madhur Modi (@MODI_MADHUR) April 1, 2020
“We apologise to a lot of customers whose orders are not getting delivered as scheduled. Our teams are working hard to bring reliability back in the supply chain,” Dhindsa tweeted, acknowledging the issues due to imbalanced demand and supply of orders.
In a statement to Gadgets 360, Grofers highlighted the issue of short-hand and assured restoration of deliveries shortly.
"Currently, all our warehouses are operational with 60 percent warehouse staff and in order to meet the massive surge in demand, we are hiring an additional 2,000 temporary warehouse and delivery staff across the country," said Rohit Sharma, Head of Supply Chain, Grofers, in the prepared statement. "We are also actively collaborating with other platforms to get their staff and delivery fleet on board. From tomorrow onwards, we will open the app for new orders to be delivered on a daily basis with a delivery promise of two-four business days."
Alongside online grocery delivery platforms, cab drivers of Ola and Uber are struggling to generate income as they aren't allowed to operate in the lockdown. Uber on Tuesday announced the launch of its new service called UberMedic that is designed to provide transportation to frontline healthcare workers. This would bring opportunities to earn for Uber cab drivers. However, some cab drivers are also seen selling vegetables on their cabs.
One such cab driver was spotted by Gadgets 360 in Mohali, a district in Punjab, where he was driving his cab loaded with vegetables and calling customers. It is worth noting that Punjab is currently on strict curfew and vegetable vendors there are allowed only for a specific time.
Emails sent to BigBasket and Ola did not elicit response at the time of filing this story. Uber declined to comment on the delivery of vegetables by its cab drivers.